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Social Anxiety and the Accuracy of Memory for Childhood Teasing Frequency

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Adults' recollections of how often they were teased as children are positively associated with their social anxiety symptoms. It has therefore been suggested that childhood teasing may play a role in the development of social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, existing studies have not determined whether adults with SAD were actually teased more as children or whether their current symptoms have distorted their memories of childhood events. This study examined reports of childhood teasing in adults with SAD before and after cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). If recollections of childhood teasing are colored by SAD symptoms, then reported frequency of teasing might be more likely to decrease as symptoms improve after CBT. However, if individuals' memories of teasing are unbiased, they should not substantially change with the reduction of symptoms after CBT. Ninety-one participants with SAD completed the Teasing Questionnaire-Revised (TQ-R) before and after 12 sessions of group CBT. CBT was effective in reducing SAD symptoms, whereas recollections of the frequency of childhood teasing did not change significantly after treatment. These results are consistent with the possibility that recollections of childhood teasing are not substantially biased by symptoms of SAD, and they lend support to previous studies which suggest that adults with SAD endured higher frequencies of teasing as children compared to controls.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2017

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